Preparation for hiking

By Jo Cordell-Cooper*

SO, you’ve got your bucket list of remote places you want to visit.

You are excited, and on signing up wondered, “am I fit enough for this and if not, how do I get fit enough?”

As part of my work as a personal trainer, I offer preparation for hiking seminars and training plans for everyday people with big goals.

So, how do you get fit enough for an adventure that will stretch you physically?

Don’t be daunted, the process is easier than you think.

To begin with, start with the end in mind – what are the demands of this hike?

Is it a single, long or multi-day trek? Do you need a pack and if yes, how heavy? What is the surface – like a fire trail, bush navigation, or rock hopping? Is it hilly or flat? Is this trek at altitude?

Next question is, how fit are you?

I’ve just begun working with a group of clients for a trip to New Zealand to walk the Milford Track.

For those new to hiking, they need a structured program to complete this four-day adventure.

Here is a rough guide to the preparation required six months out from this adventure:


Weeks 1-4:

Establish a walking routine four times a week.

2×30 to 45-minute walks at pace.

2×90-minute walks with a two to three hour walk at week four. Walk on paths and fire trails, wear a light pack that’s three to four kilograms.


Weeks 5-8:

Walk 2×45 minutes at pace, one of these can be quite hilly – lots of huff and puff.

Also do 2×1.5 to two-hour walk each week. Walk on paths, fire trails, and well-marked bush tracks.

At week eight, complete a three to four hour walk.  Wear a pack that’s four to five kilograms.


Weeks 9-12:

2×60 minutes at pace, one quite hilly.

Do 2×2 to 2.5-hour walks.

Mix up what you are walking on – a combination of paths, fire trails, bush tracks, uneven surfaces.

At week 12, complete a four to five hour walk. Wear a pack that’s five to six kilograms.


Weeks 13-16:

1×60-minute walk.

1x strength class focusing on core, balance and leg strength.

Add 1×1.5 to two-hour walk at pace – get some hills in. You need to both climb and descend and keep walking on a variety of surfaces.

At week 16, complete a five to six hour walk.


Weeks 17-20:

2×60 minutes at pace.

1x strength class.

1x three hour walk.

At week 20, complete a six to seven-hour walk. Wear a pack that’s six to seven kilograms.


Weeks 21-24:

2×60-minute walk.

1x strength class.

1x four-hour walk, plus something restorative like yoga, pilates or aqua aerobics.

Two weeks out from your trip, do a full day hike with an eight-kilogram pack.


Assuming you are coping with all of that, you are good to do the Milford Track.

There’s lots of ways to alter training to suit busy schedules, but ultimately you have got to put the work in so you can fully enjoy the experience.

*Jo Cordell-Cooper runs the award-winning Jo CC Holistic PT specialising in autoimmune conditions and preparation for hiking. For more information or to enrol in the free preparation for hiking seminars, make contact on 0409 862 206, jo@jocc.com.au or on facebook @holisticpersonaltraining.

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About the Author: Eastern Shore Sun

The Eastern Shore Sun is your monthly community newspaper, reaching over 30,000 homes and businesses in the communities of Clarence and Sorell. It is the product of Nicolas Turner, Justine Brazil, Ben Hope, Simon Andrews, Tobias Hinds and guest contributors, with support from advertisers.

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